Flat Fee MLS Listings in Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana,
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How to and How Not to Submit your Photos… and When

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
March 20th, 2019

Photos… The #1 question that comes into our office.

The ideal way to submit your photos is through our Pre Listing Manager. When you order online, the last step in the process is filling out your profile sheet and uploading your photos. Once you sign the listing agreement electronically, our system automatically and immediately emails you the profile sheet to fill out and the link to upload your photos.

Now, let’s say you are trying to submit your photos but it seems like the system is taking too long to upload them… Not a problem. All that is happening is that your photos are most likely very large files. Instead of using the online system, go ahead and email them to us. If you email the photos to us, please email them to english@congressrealty.com. PLEASE do not upload them to a 3rd party link like Dropbox or Google Drive and simply send us the link. Instead, please attach the jpegs to a new email and send them to us directly. The best time to send your photos is either before you send your profile sheet to us or immediately right after. It is not in your best interest to wait days before sending your photos.

Another scenario: You already have your listing on the MLS and you want to change your photos. Not a problem. DO NOT use the Pre Listing Manager to do this. Instead, email us at english@congressrealty.com as described in the above paragraph or use our private client area. You will have access to the private client area via the “Listing is Active” email we send you upon activating your listing.

What if you want your photos in a very specific order? Not a problem. Please label the files in the order you want them and email them to us. For example, 1.jpg, 2.jpg, 3.jpg, etc… This will guarantee that we can place your photos in the exact order you desire.

Lastly, if your photos are just enormous and you insist upon sending us a link to download the photos via a 3rd party site like Google Drive or Dropbox, please ensure the following. 1) Please do not set your photos to private. We will not have access to download the files if they are set to private. 2nd) Please place the photos in one folder so that we can download them all at one time.

Following these prompts will help us activate your listing quickly and accurately.


California Coverage Update

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
March 11th, 2019

CAL Desert MLS and Palm Springs MLS are now available through our Flat Fee Platform. We are excited to continue our growth throughout the state of California. If you have any questions or are unsure if your city is covered via Congress Realty, call us at anytime at 800 657 6579.

Forwarded Emails

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
January 30th, 2019

From time to time, a seller will receive a forwarded email from our firm during the duration of their listing. The most common occurrence might be a Realtor emailing to ask a simple question about the property. For example, what level is the master bedroom located on? When this happens, we fwd the email to the seller. As a seller, when you receive a forwarded email, you want to reply to the original party who made the request. You don’t want to reply to Congress Realty directly. By replying to the inquiring party directly, you will be providing the information to this party in the most timely manner possible. While the MLS listing does instruct agents to contact the owner, it does happen where the agent will email us with this type of inquiry on rare occasion. As a part of our service at no additional cost, we will always fwd these types of requests to the owner that same day and many times within just minutes of receipt.

The same is true if we fwd a lead from a 3rd party website like Zillow. You always want to reply to the prospective buyer directly. The buyer info will be included in the forwarded message.


Step By Step Tutorial of our listing process

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
December 28th, 2018

We are excited to announce the publication of a new video via Congress Realty. This video will allow a first time user of our program to virtually walk through our listing process. We have created a new video that will show you exactly what to expect through our online platform when placing a listing with Congress Realty. The video is similar to a tutorial. The video can be viewed in the top left hand corner of the order page by clicking on the video. A direct link to the video –  https://list.congressrealty.com/product/flat-fee-mls-listing/

Temporarily off Market versus Cancelled Status

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
November 7th, 2018

Often around this time of year, a seller considers taking their property off the market and bringing it back during the spring. This brings up 2 options in most MLS’s. Do you want to  cancel the listing entirely or just take it temporarily off the market. A few pros and cons to consider.

Temp Off market – The listing stays in the MLS but doesn’t show up under an active search. When you bring the property back to market, the MLS # will stay the same and the days on market will not reset. Congress Realty does not charge a fee for this service.

Cancelled – We are literally cancelling the listing entirely. The listing will show cancelled in the MLS. To bring the listing back in the future under a new MLS # and new listing, there is a fee for doing so. The positive of this status is that the Days on Market will reset to 0. (assuming the listing is off the market for the proper amount of time. This amount of time varies by MLS. For example, in ARMLS, it is 90 days. In some markets like Vegas, it is just 1 day)

Advice on Selling your home?

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
November 5th, 2018

It never fails. Each week we receive multiple emails commending our flat fee service and thanking us for the quick sale of the clients home. At the same time, there is always someone on the opposite end of the spectrum. They want to know why they aren’t getting phone calls, showings, etc…  The truth is that we use the same platform and techniques for each property. We constantly are marking properties under contract and/or sold each week. So why do so many properties sell through our system and some do not?

The property itself is the # 1 factor. Certain markets are hotter than others. However, let’s dive deeper into this and look at a few mistakes that a seller wants to avoid.

  1. Overpricing the property from the start. Understandably, a seller might overprice the property at the start with the idea that they can always come down on price later. The problem with this is that historically, you will get the highest price and best terms for your property within the first 3 weeks of listing. By overpricing your property, you are potentially losing out on your best possible foot traffic.
  2. Offering a lower buyer agent commission at the start of the listing with the intent of changing it later if needed. The problem with this is simple. To see the MLS stated commission, a buyer’s agent has to physically go into your listing and view the details. Once they have done this, there is no guarantee they will go back into your listing in the future to see if the commission was changed.
  3. Photos – I have seen it all when it comes to photos. I have seen a seller change photos weekly to a seller uploading over 100 photos, etc… When it comes to photos, nothing shocks me. A few notes to consider. Buyer’s often look for a reason to say “no”. As a seller, you want to have a solid # of high quality attractive photos, however, too many photos can work against you. In addition, you don’t want to constantly change your photos. There are many reasons why but one reason is that you wind up confusing 3rd party sites like Zillow. This can lead to duplicates, missing photos, etc.. on 3rd party platforms. Photo size is also important. You really want bright, clear photos. Submitting photos that are too small can appear grainy and distorted. Lastly, keep pets and people out of photos.
  4. Not being available to show. Lockboxes are your friend. The easier you make a property to show, the more likely it will be shown. I can’t tell you how many times a seller has told me that they “are always home”… and don’t need a lockbox. It is absolutely ok to not use a lockbox. You should only use a lockbox when you are comfortable with using a lockbox. However, there is a lot of evidence to support the idea that houses with lockboxes get shown more often than those without.
  5. Too many phone #’s in a listing. Don’t confuse buyer agents. Use your best phone # in the listing to contact you and leave it at that. I have seen listings with 4 different phone #’s listed and it caused extreme frustration for a buyer’s agent.
  6. Remarks – Your remarks should describe the highlights of the property and provide your best marketing pitch. You really really really don’t want to write a 3 page essay. Why? Because buyer’s simply won’t read it. Make your remarks short and sweet but impactful.

We will add to this list in the future to try and help any way that we can. In addition, I will examine a few properties that sold within a few weeks of publication and provide specific examples of what the seller did right in that instance and what factors contributed to the sale.

Upcoming additions to the Congress Realty website this winter

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
October 25th, 2018

A few notes for the upcoming winter. We have had a few past clients volunteer to do a video testimonial. We are going to try and get at least 1-2 up on the homepage by the end of the year. Another project we are working on is doing a video tutorial ourselves of how to use the new online ordering system. I’d like to set up a video explaining exactly what happens when you click the list now icon from start to finish. In addition, we are considering adding a few new territories that we will cover with local MLS listings. Most recently, Tehama County in CA has been added.  Lastly, we want to thank everyone who has written reviews of our firm online. Between Google, Yelp, And Zillow, we have over 50 Five Star Reviews. We are incredibly grateful to those that have taken the time to spread the word about firm and employees.

Las Vegas Sold Data from Congress Realty

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
September 13th, 2018

I have noted in previous articles that various MLS’s track sold data. I am a HUGE fan of this because it allows agents to provide factual data to the public regarding who sold what home. Gone are the days of agents being able to claim they are a “top agent” without actual proof. Years ago, full fee Realtors(R) would try and acquire listings by using fear tactics during a listing presentation with a seller. For example, they might say something like, “No agent will show listings from Company XYZ”… etc… With MLS’s closely tracking sold data in today’s market, homeowners can verify which agents are actually getting results.

Is it a perfect system? The one big flaw involves Real Estate Teams. A Real Estate team is a group of Realtors working under 1 team name or 1 team leader. This can skew the data when looking at agent productivity results. For example, let’s say the “John Smith Team” has 8 agents and all of the agents report listings they sell under the John Smith Team ID. This will cause the John Smith Team to display the work of 8 agents under 1 name. Thus, giving them an unfair advantage when comparing the sold data of 1 agent versus another.

So what is happening in Las Vegas and where does Congress Realty rank?

Quite frankly, the results are astounding. There are over 10,000 agents in Las Vegas and according the GLVAR, through Sept 12th, 2018, we rank #18 in total sold data for the year of 2018. Of the 17 agents in front of us, over HALF are teams and not individuals. In addition, a few others “ahead” of us are simply BANK REO vendors. If you just look at individual agents selling non foreclosure properties, we rank in the top 5 of Real Estate Agents in sold data in the Las Vegas and Henderson area. It’s a fact. The data published by the GLVAR documents this.

So what does the term “sold data” really mean?  Sold data means how many properties did you sell and what was the total dollar amount of the properties you sold.

If you are in Las Vegas and you’d like the list produced by the GLVAR, reach out to us and we can send you a PDF file of the top 100 agents in Las Vegas by sold data.

Needless to say, I am super excited about the results. I lived in the Las Vegas area for years and still spend a lot of time in the area. It’s one of my personal favorite locations.

We finish highly ranked in other markets as well. This includes in the top 100 in DFW. (where over 30,000 agents are present) We have finished #1 not only in Phoenix but also the entire state of Arizona.

Earnest Money

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
July 3rd, 2018

First, what is earnest money? Earnest money is commonly referred to as good faith money. These are the funds deposited by the buyer to open the escrow. In states like Nevada and Arizona, earnest money serves as liquidated damages to a seller in the event of a buyer default. Earnest money should always appear on the 1st page of the purchase contract. This will tell you the exact amount the buyer is placing into escrow should the buyer offer be accepted.

So how much Earnest Money is a fair amount? The answer really depends upon the property but a general answer would be 1% of the purchase price.

Can Earnest Money be increased during the transaction? Absolutely, and this happens more often than you might think. Let’s look at an example.. The buyer submits an offer that is contingent upon the sale of the buyer’s home. It wouldn’t be uncommon for the buyer to offer to increase the EMD (earnest money deposit) once the contingency is met. (IE, buyer home closes)  Another example might be when the buyer asks for an extension of close of escrow. Let’s say closing was supposed to occur on August 1st but the buyer has asked for an extension until August 15th. The seller might say ok to the extension under the agreement that the buyer increases the earnest money deposited with the escrow officer.

How can the seller retain the earnest money if the buyer defaults? The key here is the phrase “buyer default”. To retain EMD by the seller, the buyer must default in some way. Beyond that, the answer to this question will vary by your specific state. If you have questions about your state, just give us a call or consult with your attorney.

How Buyers are Dealing with a Hot Market

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
May 22nd, 2018

I’m going to write specifically about a trend I have seen in the Las Vegas market over the last 30-45 days, however, the same could be applied in other markets. I’ll start with a specific example from this past weekend. An agent submitted 3 offers to our firm on 3 different Las Vegas properties. All 3 offers had the same buyer name. Coincidence or was something fishy? To be fair, we have a lot of properties in the Las Vegas area listed under our firm, thus, having an agent submit more than 1 offer on our listings in 1 weekend isn’t all that noteworthy. However, 3 offers with the same buyer set off a red flag. So what was going on? Simple, the buyer had submitted many offers over the weekend. The buyer was waiting to see what got accepted and what was rejected. Based upon the offers that were accepted, the buyer was then going to choose to purchase the 1 home they wanted the most out of the accepted group. So how is this possible or even legal? The due diligence time period on the GLVAR gives the buyer typically 10 days to cancel the deal at no penalty. Thus, the buyer could cancel any accepted offer as long as they did so in accordance with the due diligence time period.

So now that we know the buyer isn’t violating any real law by doing so… how do I avoid this if I am a seller? There is not a perfect system to avoid this. However, there are clues to look for. The #1 clue is if the buyer made an offer site unseen. This means the buyer wrote an offer and they have never seen the property themselves. Secondly, many of these buyer’s either have 1031 exchanges or substantial down payments. (or both) The best course of action is that if you suspect the buyer has multiple offers out, just ask the the buyer’s agent. 99 times out of a 100, they will tell you.

So what is the real risk in this if you are a seller? The problem I see is that this particular type of buyer is always looking for the best deal available up until the last second. Thus, even if the escrow is opened, the buyer will keep their eyes peeled for other properties. If they find something else they like, they will look for a way out of your deal.

Hot markets are wonderful for a seller. Don’t get me wrong. However, use common sense and keep a lookout for a deal that seems too good to be true. IE.. a full price offer from a buyer who neither the buyer or his/her agent has ever seen the property.